Using shaving cream for engaging classroom activities

“IT’S SO FLUFFY!” a preschooler once said in my classroom with a delighted shriek. He was reacting to a shaving cream sensory bin – and what a relatable reaction it was! Shaving cream does elicit a response that’s filled with childlike wonder. It’s the kind that makes an educator feel like they’ve hit a sweet spot in the curriculum.  Apart from the visual stimulation it offers, it also ignites the olfactory senses with various (and hopefully pleasant) smells, and once the children manipulate the shaving cream, the kinaesthetic invigoration can be boundless. 

Engaging sensory experiences are an important component in any learning environment, as it strengthens memory, processing skills, and other neurological abilities. Shaving cream is an accessible and multi-faceted play material that will spark the children’s interest in your programming. Keep reading for some shaving cream activities you can incorporate into the classroom.

Shaving cream paper marbling

Playing with shaving cream and food coloring can develop a number of cognitive skills. It allows children to create art with a deeper understanding of three-dimensional shapes and can help them identify patterns. With the proper guidance from an adult, they can also hone their logical reasoning skills (“What will happen if we add more shaving cream?”, “How can we create the color green?”). When the experience has reached its end, they can just squish all that colorful shaving cream in between their fingers for fun!

Shaving cream raincloud activity

Stuck indoors on a rainy day? Then pivot your programming with this simple and impactful science activity. All you need are some clear containers, water, drops of food coloring, and of course, shaving cream. It would also be in your benefit to have some weather pattern books nearby so that the children can retell stories as they explore the properties of rainclouds. Once their interests have moved on, you can still keep these in your classroom so that the group can observe, collect, and organize information from this science experiment.

Snowman in a bag

It’s all the fun of messy activities without any actual mess! The shaving cream, the colorful shapes, and the glitter are all contained within a sealable bag for easy cleanup. Sidebar: the ability to use glitter in a classroom without spending an entire week to fully clean it up excites me in a way that I can’t articulate. Younger children can enjoy this activity for its sensorimotor properties, while older ones can unleash their creativity before they actually play. What else can they include in the bag? How else do they want their snowman to look?

Frozen shaving cream sensory bin

The evolving brain of a preschooler can really keep an educator on their toes. So when your group feels like they’ve mastered the sensory exploration of shaving cream, present them with FROZEN shaving cream! Its texture is different (it crumbles when manipulated) so it adds a novelty to the children’s experience with the material. When the shaving cream melts back into a more liquid state, learning can be extended as the preschoolers use descriptive language to articulate their experiences. Lastly: this activity is open-ended, so the sensory bin can be created to reflect the class’ current interests (ie: ocean toys, trucks, dinosaurs, etc) to maintain a high level of engagement.

Shaving cream writing

With a simple tray and a layer of shaving cream, children can use their fingers to write letters. It’s a great way to add some play and novelty for such a foundational skill. The learning is easily scaffolded – you can go from letters to words as they get older, or you can go from using visual to phonetic cues with what they need to write. It’s the sort of activity that can really showcase the value and effectiveness of play-based learning. 

Shaving cream cake decorating

It’s the Great Preschool Bake-off! All you need are boxes in different sizes, shaving cream, and some simple decorating “tools”. Stack the boxes any way imaginable to shape the cake, and the shaving cream works as the frosting to be spread with the tools. For younger children: it’s about cooperation, creativity, representation, measuring, and seriating. As children develop, rules and parameters can be incorporated into the play experience (ie: setting a time limit, using specific tools). If the group enjoys competition, there can even be a scoring and judging portion, perhaps mirroring a competition show that they have watched at home.

It can be easy to frame sensory play in a way that is simply a fun experience for the children. It must be remembered, however, that sensory experiences, especially in the early years, have the capability to strengthen neurological functions. Plus, with increased recognition of the amount of neurodivergent learners in today’s classrooms, educators need to use materials and experiences that support such a varied group. Shaving cream, as a play material can really be a feast for the children’s senses, so add it to your classroom activities. It just makes sense!

Looking for more great learning preschool activities for your classroom? Click below to access HiMama’s Activities – a free educational activity database for early childhood educators. Search and save hundreds of educational activities for your classroom by theme, domain, age, and more!

TJ Borile

TJ is a registered Early Childhood Educator with 5 years of experience, aspiring children's book author, and apple cider vinegar connoisseur. He loves hiking, meditation, watching animals in their natural habitat, and dancing to 90s hip hop and RNB. He currently lives in Toronto with his husband, where they have been bickering about whether they should get a dog or not for the past four years.

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